SCOUTS HONOR

Flyers staff bunker down in preparation for Sunday's draft

Friday, 06.28.2013 / 5:31 PM
Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The lists were generated weeks ago, the plan has been in place for some time.

And yet, the Flyers management and their scouting staff reconvened this week to make sure they were still on the same page.

Holed up in the war room Friday, the Flyers staff wasn’t necessarily weighing options between possible first round choices, but instead was looking much farther down the draft board at possible fourth and fifth round selections.

And while there may be small changes made to the master list between now and Sunday afternoon, the year-long efforts of the Flyers scouting staff is nearly complete in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.

But who are these people who put together this list for the Flyers? What constitutes the Flyers scouting staff.

We all know Paul Holmgren is the general manager and Chris Pryor is the Director of Hockey Operations for the team.

But who else beyond that?

Well, assistant coach John Paddock, who was assistant general manager before being assistant coach, is sitting in on the meetings, as is defenseman Chris Pronger.

It turns out that Pronger has done some scouting for the Flyers and he has had some input on who the Flyers might be looking at.

“I’ve been doing a little here and there for the team in both Canada and the U.S.,” said Pronger, who would know what to look for in a defenseman – if in fact that’s the direction the Flyers will go Sunday. “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s a lot harder comparing guys who will be taken later in the draft. I leave that to the scouts with a lot more experience than me. But as far as guys going in rounds one and two, it’s a little easier to make a case for those guys.”

Doing the heavy lifting on the later rounds of the draft are several key scouts.

The trio handling the CHL (Canadian Junior Leagues) are former Flyer Mark Greig (WHL), Dennis Patterson (OHL) and Todd Hearty (QMJHL).

All three also crossover and see each other’s teams and work in concert to discuss potential prospects, but all still have their own opinions and often lobby harder for the players in their primary territory if a debate arises.

“Cumulatively we get together and try to rank a list of players that we value,” said Greig, who makes his home in Lethbridge, Alberta. “In doing so, we try to cover the players in the beginning of the year, the middle of the year and the playoffs and hope that they progress throughout the season. Then in the end, you hope you get it right because it’s hard to project 17-year-old kids into becoming men.”

In Europe, the tandem is former Flyer Ilkka Sinisalo and Matti Kautto with recently hired Antero Niittymaki hoping on board as a European goaltending scout. Neil Little is primarily the North American goalie scout, although if you’ve read his blog, you see he’s been all over the world.

In Russia Ken Hoodikoff and Vaclav Slansky do the scouting while here in the U.S. the collegiate ranks are handled by John Riley and Ross Fitzpatrick. The United States Hockey League, the top major U.S. junior league, is manned by Wade Clarke, son of Flyers great Bob Clarke.

Andre Beaulieu, Jack McIlhargey, Al Hill and Simon Nolet round out the staff with Flyers legend Bill Barber helping out as a consultant.

“We certainly trust each other,” Hearty said. “We know the guys in our primary leagues the most but we definitely will go over and see the guys that one another are talking about. We certainly get excited about our own guys sometimes, but we are all capable of putting things in perspective. There’s a little bit of lobbying, sure, but we all trust each other.

“I’ve worked with a few different organizations and I won a Cup (as a scout) with the Anaheim Ducks, but I can say now this is the best organization in the league to work for in this department. Bar none.”

The scouts will continue to meet over the weekend and will wrap up their work in the war room Sunday morning before boarding the bus to head to Newark, N.J. for the draft.

“This draft is as good as we’ve seen in the last several years from a depth standpoint,” Greig said. “A lot of people rank drafts based on the top three or four picks – like with a [Sidney] Crosby or an [Evgeni] Malkin, but those players don’t come along every year. You look at this draft and it’s very deep – a couple of rounds deep at least – and it’s going to be a very good draft.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37

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